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Lasorda’s Made-Up Story Is News to Russell

Some suspect that Tom Lasorda’s Dodger Blue routines are an act, but Mike Scioscia told the New York Times: “No matter what he says, he believes everything he’s saying.”

Almost.

Lasorda recalled a time in Venezuela when he and Bill Russell, who played on his team, stopped off for some refreshment at a restaurant that was frequented by sportswriters.

Lasorda:

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“One of them says to me, ‘You know, Wilcox is pitching against you guys tomorrow, and he’s coming off two consecutive shutouts, and he’s going to be really tough.’ Just then Russell says to me, ‘Whenever you’re ready to leave, Tommy, let me know and we’ll head back.’

“The writer says to me in Spanish, ‘What did he say?’ I said, ‘He told me to tell you guys, Wilcox won’t last 5 innings and he personally will hit a home run to knock him out of the box.’

“Russell doesn’t know what I told them in Spanish. Next day, first time up, Russell gets a hit and drives in 2 runs. In the fifth inning, Russell hits a 3-run homer and knocks Wilcox out of the box.

“They wrote it down as one of the greatest predictions ever in the history of Venezuelan baseball.”

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Mike Brito, the man who discovered Fernando Valenzuela and who clocks Dodger pitchers during games, said he takes his $2,000 radar gun with him everywhere.

“Even when I go to the jungle,” he said. “You never know where you’re going to find a pitcher. He could be throwing stones and killing birds in the jungle.”

Add Brito: He said the fastest pitchers he has clocked are Nolan Ryan and J. R. Richard at 100 m.p.h. Then come Goose Gossage (99), Steve Bedrosian (98) and Roger Clemens, Burt Hooton and Alejandro Pena (97 each).

The fastest of the Dodgers are Tim Leary and Tim Belcher (both 96) and Orel Hershiser (94). Pena’s 97 came 3 years ago, and Brito said he has slowed since.

Trivia Time: Former major league pitcher Vic Raschi, who died Friday, is the answer to what trivia question? (Answer below.)

Add Trivia: The only two pitchers to be used as pinch-hitters in World Series history? They are Babe Ruth and Don Drysdale.

Ruth grounded out for the 1915 Boston Red Sox, and Drysdale struck out for the 1965 Dodgers.

Note: Drysdale, in the Series against the Minnesota Twins, was the only .300 hitter in the Dodger starting lineup.

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For What It’s Worth: Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post said research shows that Kirk Gibson’s ninth-inning homer Saturday night was the first to turn defeat into victory in a World Series.

All the other last-inning homers, starting with Casey Stengel’s inside-the-park job for the New York Giants in 1923 and including those by Tommy Henrich, Dusty Rhodes, Eddie Mathews, Bill Mazeroski, Mickey Mantle and Carlton Fisk, came with the score tied.

The first words from Corey Pavin after his 8-stroke victory in the Texas Open at San Antonio?

“The Dodgers are awesome,” said the ex-Bruin.

Trivia Answer: While pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954, he gave up Henry Aaron’s first career homer.

Quotebook

Mickey Hatcher of the Dodgers, on Kirk Gibson’s home run Saturday night: “I wanted to go out and kiss the guy, but he never shaves and I could have hurt myself.”


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